Top positive review
Enjoyable, if not taken seriously....
on 12 November 2012
This is my second viewing of this often maligned take on the modern London gangster scene and the fact that it's quite shambolic and non-sensical is both its charm - and its downfall.
Many of the characters are pretty stereotypical and many really quite outlandishly so but these are played by some great Brit acting talent who are a joy to watch anyway, notably Anna Friel as the emotionally (not to mention mentally) unstable sister to main man Colin Farrell and David Thewlis, a RADA thespian who's now discovered pot.
Ray Winstone is playing totally to type, as the Don, or main gangster or whatever they're called these days but even this is done joyfully and almost endearingly. He's more wicked Uncle than bruiser, though those who receive his knuckle and wrath probably wouldn't say that! Farrell himself is OK, understated, which is quite a good thing and then there's loads of other familiar faces popping up, rather like the joke papparrazzi stalking Knightley, like Meerkat, on the horizon. These include Eddie Marsden as a really badly dressed, crooked cop and Sanjeev Baskar as a hospital doc who gets his way with Friel (yes, I said not to take it seriously!)
There is a story in there somewhere but it's easy to lose thread of that and does it matter, anyway? - it's not particularly credible in any case.
As others have said, the soundtrack is a real bonus, almost a Tarantino style jukebox of (mostly) classic 60's golden hits, which nod affectionately to a gone-by, swinging better London. Indeed, there are many directorial threads that, to me, seem to nod to Lock, Stock & some Tarantino's, though, before you get all excited, these are really only skin deep and London Boulevard never reaches the standard of those, by quite a way.
The disappointment for me and I'm sure for many, is Keira Knightley. For someone who is supposed to be a naughty film-star, caught in other people's beds by the Paps just a little too often and now in hiding, her character is just plain. Yes, boring, uncharismatic and even rather unattractive, physically, which we all know Keira is not. And so, the 'romance' between Farrell and her is tepid and a waste of time, really. The other pitfall is having too many other characters, whose relevance we forget or are simply too irrelevant to have any real purpose. These do not add interest, just create confusion.
The bottom line is this - there have been SO many attempts at re-visiting Lock Stock territory and its cash-generating capabilities, that a whole load of really dreadful "movies" have come out, all citing to be the new, 'the' best and utterly original London gangster portrayals and most funded by the National Lottery. And, frankly, they're not.
London Boulevard fails on quite a number of levels but it does have many that it does do quite well and enjoyably, including not taking itself too seriously and so I would say give this one a chance. Yes, four stars are TOO generous but I like it and three is too little, so 3.5